Will Kofi Annan Succeed in Mediating Between PNU and ODM

It is easy to tell that Kofi Annan genuinely wanted a successful mediation in Kenya and a return to peaceful co-existent among Kenyan communities. Will he be successful in achieving this objective? Unfortunately signs are that he will not. Where did he go wrong?

The constitution of his mediation team
It would have been very hard to bar the hardliners from ODM - Ruto and PNU - Martha from constituting the team. Annan should have had Kibaki and Raila sit through all the sessions of the mediation talks. If they were too busy to attend to the talks, then the commitment and goodwill question would have been answered. Since he considers that there is a political crisis in Kenya, the president should not have been allowed to go on 'business as usual' and ODM leader should not have been treated like a rebel leader who blackmail Annan team and his opponents with countrywide violence at will if things don't go his way.

The leadership of his mediation team
He failed to search and incorporate 'eminent' Kenyans in his team and assumed that no Kenyan could have helped resolve the impasse. The truth of the matter is that the resolution lies with Kenyans and a spice of Kenyan mediation leadership could have helped. A good starting point would have been Ambassador Bethuel Kiplagat, Rtd General Lazarus Sumbeiywo, Washington Okumu and representatives from religious, legal, business and civil society. If the two sides could not have greed on common Kenyan mediation leaders they would have been allowed to nominate their own. Such leaders would have provided good background of the crisis and co-chaired/moderated the sessions to lead to a Kenyan solution that would most likely be accepted by a majority of Kenyans.

Giving false hopes to Kenyans
For sure Kenyans hopes were pegged on Annan and he did not disappoint. Given the chance, Kenyans can be extremely optimistic. Annan started by saying that the mediation will be finished in 7 to 15 days. Each new week he promises that things will be ironed out by the end of the week. The latest was the promise that an agreement out of the crisis will be reached within 48 to 72 hours. It is just a matter of time before Kenyans run out of patient and start sorting out the mess themselves the best way they know how.

Underestimating the protagonists
Annan easily assumed that Kibaki will bulge when pushed and when told to jump, he will ask how high. This is the same mistake ODM and in particular Raila keeps making when dealing with Kibaki. Kibaki's love for silence and non-confrontation tendency has always been laughed at. Kibaki is a seasoned politician and his cronies do not make it easier for anyone to have their way around him. It is now clear that Kibaki will not allow a grand coalition with Raila as the Executive Prime Minister. Raila on the other hand has warriors holding him ransom and a violence machinery at his beck and call. They will not rest until they get their justice.

In addition Annan weakly had utmost good faith with the selected mediation team until the delaying tactics, shifting of goalposts and indecision crept in.

Ignoring the current Kenyan constitution however daft it is
There has been debate whether there is a constitutional crisis in Kenya that allows for the current constitution to be altogether suspended or selectively applied as some have been advocating. It is true that Kenyans have always wanted a new constitution dispensation. The assumption has always been that the current constitution be in place fully until the new one is enacted. At no one time have Kenyans envisaged a transition period where there is no constitution, new or old. The question is, should at that point, the military be allowed to take over?

Annan ignored this fact. It is on the current constitution, however bad it is, that Kenyans can say there are MPs, Parliament, Police and all those legal institution including the presidency even if the president is in question. Proposing constitutional amendments by Parliament especially on one of the so called contentious issues will definitely get to a dead end. This issue as to whether Kenya will be a parliamentary democracy with powerful premiership has been one of the issues that has made Kenya not have a new constitution despite the fact that this exercise has been on since pre-2002 elections. Annan gullibly believed that if the mediation team agreed on Executive prime minister, parliament will automatically have the requisite majority - which is not a simple majority - to pass this amendment just because he asked them in a speaker's Kamukunji. Dead wrong.

Justice for the 1,000 dead, hundreds raped and over half a million displaced
Annan started well by visiting the violent-torn regions and camps for the Kenyan displaced. Within a week of the mediation talks, this item had been closed through several resolutions. Several weeks after, we still have Kenyans refugees, houses being burnt, people been evicted from their non-ancestral lands and IDP camps being threatened with a new wave of destruction. Annan did not put muscle to ensure that the humanitarian problem in Kenya was resolved forthwith. He went ahead to look for a political solution and hopefully jet out the soonest he can. As ODM says there can be no peace without justice. And justice includes the justice of the murdered and the evicted.

Banking in the glory of western diplomatic ultimatums
It is clear that this has been mostly directed on the Kibaki government side. It has had the effect of making sure the government sits down in the mediation round table and listen. This has had some positive effect on Annan's team since the government has been giving concessions and looked willing to step down and hand over power through the back door as PNU leaders would say.

In the long-term this will be counter-productive to the Annan team as it gives the Kibaki administration to play power games, entrench its leadership and delay the talks while they enjoy the spoils. The government is slowly learning to live with Visa bans to perceived western heaven. It has already gotten used to negative publicity in western countries and gradually getting used to its reflection of another emerging dictatorship in Africa. The question soon will be, what is the worst that the West can do, economic sanctions? invasion Iraq style? Economic sanctions will hurt Kenyans more than Kibaki and his team. An invasion is remote and will put the West in bad books in Africa relations. Soon the government will be numb to these ultimatums and the sooner Annan disassociates himself from the ultimatums, the luckier he could be.

Brushing over the December 27 election results
Isn't this the key thing that has brought Annan to Kenya? It was very essential that Annan conclusively dealt with the results of the December 27 elections. Kenyans needed details not blanket condemnation that it was rigged or the presidential tally was defective. It is part of the justice Kenyans are crying for. If the elections was rigged, who, where and how was it rigged? Who were the culprits, complete with evidence and prosecution to boot? Who really won? Was it president Raila Odinga? Yes? Let him be sworn in as president and have liberty to choose who he wants to work with. That is democracy, majority rule. If this truth is established, Kenyans will respect it and losers will live with it, otherwise there is an established process of dealing with those who will not comply.

Annan should have put the UN and Western machinery in doing all that partakes to ascertaining this. The returning officers, poll clerks, presiding officers, party agents, the media and observer community are still alive and kicking. Let them testify to the truthfulness of results in each polling station. The registers, polling papers, form 1 to 20 As and Bs as well as votes in ballot boxes are still there. Let them be perused and recounted. The world has a host of forensic auditors and investigators who can establish with reasonable accuracy whether these documents have been tampered with and to what extent.

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One Response to Will Kofi Annan Succeed in Mediating Between PNU and ODM

MainaT said...

Excellent piece.
Annan seems to have forgotten that he is dealing with politicians and African politicians at that. They'll make him go round the bend if he is not careful.
You can't have two parallel govts as is likely if what is being suggested happens. And an executive PM is not even in our current constitution